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Elevation: 12,799', ( 3901 meters)
United States
County: Park
Range: Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains, (part of the Rocky Mountains)
Nearest Towns: Cooke City, 11 miles South West; Red Lodge, 20 miles East
Longitude: 109 48' W    Latitude: 45 10' N

Located in the Beartooth Range in the Rockies, Granite Peak is considered one of the most difficult highpoints in the lower 48 states. Climbing this Montana peak is difficult and should not be taken lightly. Certainly, it is not recommended for the novice peak bagger.  Although climbing Granite as a day hike is possible (Reno did it!), most climb it as an overnighter using a high camp on Froze-To-Death Plateau or at Avalanche Lake.  Eventually the route leads you to a point about 75' below the summit. Expect talus-strewn climbing, and serious boulder hopping on the way to the base of Granite Peak.  The area is notorious for the nasty thunderstorms that are unpredictable especially on summer afternoons.

On a historical note, apparently attempts were made on its summit in 1889, 1910, 1914 and 1922, it wasn't until August 29, 1923 that Elers Koch and two others finally arrived on the top. This relatively late ascent gives Granite Peak the distinction of being the last of the fifty state highpoints to be conquered.



A common trailhead for Granite Peak is the West Rosebud Creek draining northeast from Mystic Lake.   The road leading to the trailhead is often plagued with "pot holes" and a "washboard" surface.  The road can be very dusty during the summer.   USFS trail # 18 leads up to Mystic Lake and its hydroelectric dam.  The trail to Mystic lake is about 3 miles in length and is a popular destination for hikers and folks carrying a fishing pole/rod.  At the west end of Mystic lake (just over the bridge leading over Huckleberry Creek) is a trail that leads steeply uphill to Huckleberry Lake, and then onto Princess and Avalanche Lake.  See map above, or get a copy of the TerraTopo map of the Absaroka-Beartooths.  It is probably easiest to climb the peak in August-September when most of the snow has melted. The more dramatic route is from East Rosebud trail (USFS Trail # 17), over some nasty switchbacks and onto the Froze-to-Death Plateau.  Because the plateau is "wide open", hikers are often exposed to rain, wind and dangerous  storms. 

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Granite Peak is Montana's highest and one of the most difficult of the state highpoints to climb.  While the hike can be done in one day, many folks spend a few days.  It is safer to hike Bivouac Saddle between Tempest Mountain and Granite Peak (via Huckleberry Creek)  but the creek can be quite treacherous to cross and is often poorly marked. There are steep cliffs and deadly drop offs of hundreds of feet on both sides of the narrow trail. Deep snow, and "unsafe snow conditions" complicate matters, and the "rotten" rocks also easily give way.    Other than a camp near Avalanche Lake, there is a lack of a good high camp.  A short and dangerous ridge of snow lies between you and the top.  The area around Granite Peak is notorious for the thunderstorms that approach quickly, often in the late afternoon. These factors and many others can make this a dangerous adventure. The number of accidents on the peak in recent years proves this fact.  




Interested in a map of the Granite Peak area? Order the TerraTopo map directly from Global Positions, Inc. for $18.95 (which includes shipping in the United States).   The folded map is printed on waterproof, tear-proof synthetic material. 

Order the Printed TerraTopo Map Now...


I would like to Order the CD-ROM of the Entire Absaroka-Beartooths (with Granite Peak)